On behalf of our members, RACV welcomes the significant commitments in the May State Budget to upgrade regional and metropolitan roads and public transport, reflecting RACV’s strong advocacy on the key transport issues faced by Victorians. The Federal Budget, released shortly after the State Budget, also delivers on important transport projects for Victoria with commitments to regional rail upgrades and a number of metropolitan and regional road projects.
The State and Federal Budgets both provide funding to complete widening on the M80 Ring Road, in the west and north, and both have supported RACV’s priority project for a rail link to Melbourne Airport, with $10 million from the state and $30 million from the Commonwealth for planning.
The State Budget provides funding to continue the Metropolitan Rail Tunnel project and the West Gate Tunnel project. RACV is pleased to see that both the State and Federal Governments have continued their commitment to the duplication of Victoria’s regional highways, including the Princes Highway East and West and the Western Highway.
RACV’s number one road project, the missing North East Link in the Metropolitan Ring Road, received $100 million for planning and investigations from the State Government to select the route and prepare contracts. This is great news for the people of Melbourne’s north-east and for the freight industry. Unfortunately this critical project of national importance did not receive Federal support.
The State Budget includes emergency funding of $260 million to address rural road needs, including $163 million for maintenance, but this falls short of the $1.2 billion over four years that we have calculated is required. Clearly a stronger state commitment is needed.
RACV’s Regional Growing Pains report stressed how vital regional rail services are to members in rural Victoria. The State Budget allocates $1.4 billion to upgrade lines and services to Gippsland, Geelong, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Ballarat and Shepparton. The Federal Government has allocated $1 billion for rail projects as part of the Asset Recycling Initiative, from the Melbourne Port sale, however the full amount due to Victoria has not been committed.
The Federal Government’s funding of $16 million for the keys2drive program to help learner drivers is also a welcome investment, alongside their commitment to an inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy to develop new initiatives.
On the home front, the State Government is funding programs to help households and businesses manage their energy use and the Federal Government is launching an inquiry into electricity prices. These proposals complement the initiatives underway in our home portfolio, because we know that our members are keen to reduce expenditure on non-renewable energy.
While we were pleased to see bicycle facilities included in the West Gate Tunnel and Mordialloc Bypass projects, we were disappointed that there was not a comprehensive plan to improve safety for bicycle riders with on-road and off-road cycle paths and lanes.
Read more about State Budget and Federal Budget funding commitments, and RACV’s response to them, in RoyalAuto’s comprehensive Budget coverage.
Further to my announcement last month, I am pleased to advise members that RACV's Mobile Tyres service trial is going very well. In the first few weeks members have had new tyres fitted at their home, workplace, friends’ houses and many other locations convenient to them. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with members happy that expert work is done while they go about their day. Tyre prices and booking times are available online at tyres.racv.com.au.
Kevin W White, President & Chairman of the Board